Solar Eagle III: Catching Up with Kathleen Hansen...Solar Eagle III Team Leader


 

"The first time I walked up to the Solar Eagle lab, I stopped at

the door and asked if I could come in," says Mechanical Engineering

senior, Kathleen Hansen. "I was in such awe of the whole project, I

thought you had to have special credentials just to go in the lab."

Now the Solar Eagle III student team captain, Kathleen

looks back at her assumptions with amusement. "I guess I thought you

had to be some kind of superstar student to be able to work on a Solar Eagle.

I thought it was totally out of my reach."

Nearly two years later, Kathleen has been a key player in the planning,

designing, and constructing of Cal

State L.A.'s third solar-powered electric vehicle. Aside from assuming

the role of team leader, Kathleen also worked extensively on the Solar Eagle

III's mechanical systems and batteries.

But there's more to this native Southern Californian's role in the Solar

Eagle III project than meets the eye. In between hours of work on the car,

engineering classes, and days spent at BW/IP International, where she has

a part-time job in the pump division, Kathleen shared her thoughts on...

The New Car...
"Everyone loved our car at the Western

Regional Qualifier. It was amazing how eager our competitors were to

help us just because they liked the Solar Eagle III. One member from another

team loaned us a fan and when we gave it back, he said, "I'm going

to frame this fan because it was used on your car." That's how the

Solar Eagle III is--it's a very likable car. I think it's definitely the

best looking we've ever had. Me? I just love to hear the sound of it driving

by. It makes me so proud, it gives me chills."

Sleep Deprivation...
"I've worked straight through several nights to help get this car

finished. It was necessary. When you have to incorporate work, classes,

and building a solar car at the same time, you have to work for it. I found

that, if I can get through 4:00 to 6:00 in the morning which is when my

body could really use a rest, then I'm usually good to go until midnight.

And it wasn't just me. The whole team has worked incredibly long hours to

get the job done. That's the only way a project like this can work."

The Brink of Competition...
"I'm very excited about Sunrayce

'97. The Qualifier gave us all a little taste of the excitement and

the long hours--5:00 a.m. to midnight, running on adrenaline. I just hope

I've got enough adrenaline for ten Sunrayce days. Team

Solar Eagle III is anxious to meet up with the teams that participated

in the Eastern

Qualifier. We've done our homework, and I really feel we're ready for

the race."

The Importance of Student Projects...
"The Solar Eagle project has meant so

much to so many Cal State L.A. students over the years. It's the only project

I've ever been involved in that literally turns the reins over to students

completely. One thing people don't realize about us, though, is that we've

had a tremendous amount of support from the university and from our corporate

sponsors. We've been treated like professionals every step of the way."

Women in Engineering...
"I'm sure statistics would show that the world needs more women

engineers, but who am I to say? What I do feel strongly about, though, is

that young girls in early education shouldn't be intimidated by or persuaded

to avoid courses in science and math. I've heard of this happening and more

than anything it makes me feel lucky that I was always encouraged in those

subjects. In my experience, women and men look at situations differently,

and the different perspective a woman can offer the professional world of

engineering is really an asset to her."


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